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UFCW International President Marc Perrone and Executive Vice President Esther López on “Fulfilling America’s Promise for Immigrants”

DSC_0116Over the Fourth of July holiday weekend, an op-ed penned by UFCW International President Marc Perrone and Executive Vice President Esther López was published in The Hill. Titled “Fulfilling America’s Promise for Immigrants,” the piece talks about the urgent need to reform our broken immigration system. You can read the full text of the op-ed below:

“For most, the Fourth of July is about celebrating America. It’s a day to spend with family, enjoy great food and fireworks. For immigrant workers, their families and communities, the Fourth of July is about celebrating the promise of America. It is about a getting a fair shot and realizing the American dream, the same dream that has motivated so many to take unimaginable risks to become part of our great country.

From Albert Einstein to Mother Jones, immigrant workers from all over the world have contributed to the social fabric of America and made this country what it is. Yet the newest generation of immigrants continues to wait for our elected officials to wake up, do what’s right and provide the protection they desperately need to contribute their share. President Obama’s executive action on immigration was one small step forward, but it was only a minimal response to a real crisis that has only grown under his watch. Republican Congressional leaders have refused to hear the calls for change and remain fixated on broken policies and political rhetoric that only serve to perpetuate this crisis.

The fact is the American people, immigrants and their families deserve much better than the deafening silence of our elected officials or the feigns of exasperation that nothing more can be done.
Looking ahead, the 2016 presidential elections offer all of us a real opportunity to change the narrative and discourse of inaction surrounding immigration. It offers us a chance to question our leaders, especially those running for president, on where they stand. Do they truly believe granting hard-working aspiring Americans temporary relief is enough? What are their specific policies that will give real hope to millions of immigrant workers and their families? Will they publicly commit to solving this issue within their first hundred days or not? For the sake of millions of families, we must be willing to demand real and substantive answers to these questions now.

As potential presidential candidates continue to stake out their position on immigration and immigration reform, the stakes have never been higher for hard-working families to demand more from each of them — regardless of party. Millions of aspiring Americans remain in limbo and in danger of deportation because of our outdated immigration policies and the politicians that turn a blind eye to exploitative labor practices that drive down wages, benefits and working conditions for all workers.

The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) has seen firsthand the devastation caused by our broken immigration system. From Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids in meatpacking plants to the endless threat of deportation, immigrant communities across the United States have suffered from an ideology of indifference that has pervaded our political system. This must change, and it must change now.

Working together to achieve real reform, we can empower all workers to chase the American dream; but we can’t do so if elected leaders continue to ignore this issue. Creating the better America we believe in demands that our leaders embrace the solemn responsibility they have to fulfill America’s amazing immigrant promise. Comprehensive immigration reform with a pathway to citizenship is one bold step in making the American dream a reality and fulfilling America’s immigrant promise. This July 4, let us declare our independence from political indifference and demand our elected leaders, and especially those running for president, live up to a higher standard of leadership. Let us solve this problem now, not later. Because when we do, millions of families and this nation will be better because of it.”

UFCW and LCLAA Bring Groundbreaking Immigration Program to Miami

Workers, the labor movement, and allies continue organizing immigrant workers to file and fight for deferred actions on immigration and increased worker protections

UFCW Executive Vice President Esther Lopez, accompanied by the LCLAA board, addresses the press  at LCLAA's regional conference.

UFCW Executive Vice President Esther Lopez, accompanied by the LCLAA board, addresses the press at LCLAA’s regional conference.

(Miami, Fla., Friday, June 12th) – In the wake of the ongoing legal battle that has suspended President Obama’s executive actions on immigration, workers and labor leaders are gathering in Miami over the weekend to build immigrant worker power by mobilizing workers to apply and fight for deferred action. At an event today, workers and labor leaders sent a strong message to local officials and the 2016 presidential election candidates: it is not enough to grant hard working aspiring Americans temporary relief. It’s time to finally fix our broken immigration system.

“We know the lawsuit is a political stunt—an effort to scare away immigrant workers from applying for DAPA. But our movement is as strong and organized as I can ever remember it. Together, we will fight for DAPA. We will fight for DACA. And we will fight for comprehensive immigration reform,” said Esther López, Executive Vice President of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW). López was joined by Héctor E. Sánchez, Executive Director of the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA), and María Asunción Bilbao of United Families in calling elected officials to take immediate action to protect immigrant workers from precarious working conditions and to improve living standards for all workers.

“The court’s unnecessary delay in keeping families whole is not holding our movement from preparing our community for deferred action. We hold strong optimism that the court will ultimately rule to move forward with the implementation of DAPA. We are in Miami today to ensure those who will benefit from deferred action are ready to apply on the first day DAPA is implemented,” said Sanchez.

“Unfortunately, our Attorney General, Pam Bondi, supported a lawsuit stopping DAPA,” said Bilbao. “I want to ask all elected officials and presidential candidates to support immigrant families. Support programs like DAPA and DACA so that families like mine can get the protection they need.”

The UFCW has partnered with LCLAA to bring its groundbreaking immigration program to Miami as part of LCLAA’s Regional Conference, which is aimed at advancing Latino and labor issues. From coast to coast, UFCW local unions have hosted workshops to help members determine whether they qualify for deferred action, gather necessary documentation, prescreen their applications, and answer important legal questions. The immigration training and workshop clinic will take place on Sunday, June 14th at Miami Dade Community College –Wolfson Campus.

 

 

New Report Reveals How Retail Industry is Failing Black and Latino Workers

NAACP Retail Race Graph

Demos and the NAACP released a  report last week titled, “The Retail Race Divide: How the Retail Industry is Perpetuating Racial Inequality in the 21st Century.” The paper examines the differences in retail workers’ occupations, earnings, and schedules to reveal how employment in the retail industry fails to meet the needs of the Black and Latino workforce and, as a result, perpetuates racial inequality. As one of the largest sources of new employment in the U.S. economy, and the second-largest industry for Black employment in the country, the problems of occupational segregation, low pay, unstable schedules, and involuntary part-time work among Black and Latino retail staff point to an important chance for employers to make a real impact on racial inequality by paying living wages and offering stable, adequate hours for all retail workers.

The findings show that there is a high demand for workers in the retail industry and finding employment is not the problem for Black and Latino workers. Instead, these workers and their families experience hardships because of the lack of stable pay due to unpredictable hours that fluctuate from week to week, and wages that fall short of meeting a family’s basic needs even with full-time hours. These conditions leave nearly one in 10 retail sales workers in poverty, despite being employed. This number is even higher among Black and Hispanic workers who, not only, face prevalent low-wages and unstable scheduling practices, but the additional obstacles of racial inequality in the labor market.

For a quick breakdown of the jarring statistics from the report, watch below–also available in Spanish.